On Wednesday, a father from Celina, TX, decided to carry out an impromptu school-shooter security check at his child’s elementary school. The problem?
No one at the school was aware that it was ‘just a test.’
“Basically, he told one of the greeters, ‘I am a gunman. My target is inside of the building. I’m going in the building. You stop me,’” Celina Independent School District superintendent Donny O’Dell, told local news station WFAA.
“They recognized, at that point, that he did not have a weapon and they were able to go ahead and tell him to leave,” O’Dell added.
The police were called, though school administrators did not dial 911 because they identified the man, 44-year-old Ron Miller, as a parent and a volunteer.
Miller, a paramedic, was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats, which is a third-degree felony. He was released later Wednesday night on $75,000 bail.
Few would dispute that what Miller did was stupid (at least with respect to the fact that he broke the law), but in the process of pulling off his ‘I’m a gunman, stop me’ security check he exposed how ill-prepared the school was to deal with an actual shooter.
For one thing, the greeter at the school’s main ingress did not have a radio to alert the office or the police of the perceived threat.
“We found some glitches … some things we need to work on,” said superintendent O’Dell. “Of course, none of this ever takes place when you expect it to, so human response to certain situations is not always perfect because we’re not perfect.”
Parents greeted Miller’s stunt with mixed emotions. While some see it in the context of a ‘teachable moment’ that will lead to improved security measures, others were plainly disappointed, upset by the emotional stress it caused.
“I think it was poor judgment, absolutely poor judgment,” said Jennifer Thomas, a parent at Celina. “If he only knew what he was doing to parents in this community. I wish he hadn’t have done it.”
In a post-Sandy Hook world, every parent wants to ensure that their children will be safe at school. Yet, doing rogue (unannounced and unsanctioned) shooter drills is probably not the best way to test the system – at least not if one wants to stay out of jail.
Moving forward, all schools should work with local authorities (and maybe the NRA, i.e. its Shield Program) to conduct a thorough evaluation of their security protocols. Part of that evaluation should involve sanctioned security checks (akin to fire drills), but part of it should also determine who among the teachers, faculty and staff is trained to use a firearm because as NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre so eloquently pointed out, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”